Conditional Brochos, Dancing Girls and we want our Holiday back!
Do you want to hear all about Parshas Eykev which we will read in shul this coming shabbis or would you prefer to hear why The Oisvorfer is mad as hell and won’t take it anymore? Who cares what you think anyway?
Ober chap nisht (don’t run ahead), it’s still shabbis and there is a parsha, albeit not one of the more exciting ones, though it does contain the mitzvah of bentching (grace after meals), and we must give it a shtikel attention.
What to do? Nu, we’ll cover both topics; the parsha bikutzer (in short) and inyonay diyomo bearichus (important topics of the day in depth). Here then, the Monarch Notes version of the gantze parsha.
Moishe Rabaynuu, having tried every other tactic known to man, resorts to bribing the Yiddin to do the right thing and believe in the RBSO. Moishe is mamish totally exasperated with the yiddin, having tried and at times (mostly) failed miserably, to reign in their erratic behavior toward the RBSO. He tries a shtikel new tactic (new approach): he tried bribing them, not with cash but with brochos (blessings). And why not? Plenty of Rebbes and Mikubolim (Kabbalists who accept/demand lots of money for blessings), though thankfully not all, have carved out a specialty niche in this segment of our beautiful religion: Everyone wants a brocho and many are mamish willing to pay for it. The parsha begins with Moishe, representing the RBSO, making all sorts of promises of good tidings to the BNY if only they will finally listen, have faith and do the right thing. Doing the right thing seems to be problematic for the Yiddin, what else is new?
And long before American Express and the airline industry came up with rewards programs, here in Parshas Eykev, Moishe has its first version. Says he: if the Yiddin will do good (by keeping the Toirah) and trust the RBSO, they will be rewarded with many blessing. “This shall be the reward when [Eykev] you hearken to these ordinances and you observe and perform them… Hashem will love you, bless you and multiply you, and bless the fruit of your womb… there will be no barren men or women amongst you…” (Devarim 7:12-14). Fertility and material success are serious issues and the RBSO knows just what buttons to push to get our attention. The final part of his strategy was mamish brilliant: it involved Jewish guilt as a form of inducement and here’s how it worked. Moishe’s tactics, since perfected by the prototypical eishes chayil (also longer term girlfriends), are now legendary. He reminds the Yiddin of every single misdeed over the past 40 years. Remember what you did 40 years ago with the eygel? Likely they didn’t, so he regurgitated every ugly detail. Do you remember that you cost us 38 years of valgering (wandering) here in the midbar because you wanted to send spies to check out the land and then spoke loshoin horoh about Eretz Yisroel? Likely the perpetrators were long dead, but he reminded the next generation anyway. You owe me and the RBSO!! And do you remember how good the RBSO was to you anyway despite your less than admirable behavior? And as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t your own eishes chayil also become “historical” every time you guys fight and isn’t it amazing what she can remember?
He reminds them by delineating their checkered past and mostly undeserved awards already received on account. Believe me, no one enjoys hearing their checkered past, if you chap.
1- Redemption from slavery
2- Munn that fell for 40 years
3- Clothing that never wore out or got dirty
5- Women, even local zoinas (whores) at various stops
6- And much more
And despite all the good things that happened in the midbar, that generation of Yiddin continued to find ways to anger the RBSO.
Ober (but) says Moishe: the new rewards are all contingent promises based on one word, ‘eykev’, hence the Parsha’s name; meaning if orbecause or in exchange for or on account of. In other words, it’s a deal. Of course Yiddin love a deal, even if at times, they get snookered. If the Yiddin behave and follow the RBSO’s ways, good things will happen. Otherwise it’s curtains and maybe that’s why the parsha also has the second paragraph of the Shema. Meaning that if the Yiddin don’t behave, they had better start praying and davening and what better prayer more universally known than the Shema?
The parsha concludes with the RBSO’s promise that He will provide the people with protection if they observe the laws of the Toirah; of course everyone needs protection at times, if you chap. Shoin! I told you the parsha wasn’t all that exciting but The Oisvorfer is and has been chomping at the bit to tell you what’s on his mind since Monday. This week, I will explore and dig up the mysterious and lost holiday of Tu Be’av.
Grada, just last Friday as the Oisvorfer and his eishes chayil were on their way up to Vacation Village to spend the heylige shabbis with some old chaverim and as we exited Route 17 at Liberty, New York, instead of turning right (like most people nowadays), we went straight and up the road to another place, also nebech now lost, gone and extinct: Grossinger’s. It brought back memories of singles weekends, many meydlich, the post Tisha Be’av drive up to the Catskills, Shabbis Nachamu, and even Tu Be’av. And it got me thinking: whatever happened to this holiday and its observance? And before we go veyter, let’s learn some more about this Yom Toiv that somehow today’s rabbis have all but eradicated and gotten away with it.
Over shabbis we tried something new: instead of sitting around the table and speaking loshoin horoh, we decided that we should do this while sitting on the sofa. Avada I’m kidding as loshoin horoh is strictly verboten, especially for the Oisvorfer who is more used to hearing it (mostly about himself, nebech) than speaking it. Instead we had a discussion about the upcoming Yom Tov of Tu Be’av. We had a chance to trace the origins of this celebration and of course it was called a Yom Tov and why shouldn’t it be? Wouldn’t it be Yom Tov by you if by chance you happened upon a vineyard and found yourself gazing at hundreds of meydlich, some even lookers, dancing in their flowing white dresses? And wouldn’t your holiday be even more enhanced as you envisioned yourselves single again, chapping a dance and more with a few of those hundreds of young maidens? Oy vey, you mamish disgust me.
Besides the full moon which marks the 15th of Chodesh Av, this past Sunday evening and all day Monday, we also marked the special Yom Toiv of Tu (meaning the 15th) Be’av. Did any of you even know that it was yom toiv this week? And that we missed its observance and celebration? Do you remember anything? How about the Aleph Beiz (Hebrew Alphabet)? And this wasn’t just any holiday but quite a special one, one that gets quite a bit of play in the heylige Gemora Tannis. Ober vus iz iz (what is it)? Nu, it turns out that the goyim chapped this holiday away from us, found a way to monetize it, brought it back with a new name, surrounded it with flowers, hearts, gifts and greeting cards and called it Valentine’s day, its name ad hayoim hazeh (until today).
Nu rebbe zug shoin (tell me now please), what’s so special about this holiday that seems to have disappeared and gone the way of the rotary phone? Since when do we observant Yiddin skip a holiday, especially a festive one, and one that that doesn’t involve depriving ourselves of leather, food, water, bathing, relations with the eishes chayil and efsher others? One that doesn’t require food shopping until midnight, invitations to family members we mamish can’t stand or don’t even want to talk to ever again, for a meal. I’m mamish tzibrochin (broken-hearted) to tell you that all that’s left over from this great day is that we don’t say tachnun during davening. Taka not a small matter if it falls on a Monday or Thursday, which it did this year. What’s tachnun you ask? Oy vey- nu, if you went to shul during the week instead of just putting on your tefilin for five minutes at home, you would zicher know. It’s also a holiday on which, according to many, should a wedding take place and avada (of course) someone’s always getting married on a Monday, the chosson and kallah (bride and groom) are exempt from fasting. Nu, let’s find out what we missed.
Anyway Raboyseyee, this past Monday we marked but did not celebrate ano longer well known and certainly not practiced Jewish holiday and tradition that dates back all the way to the Mishna (compiled way back in the end of the second century). Said Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel in the heylige Mishna azoy (like this): “There were no better (i.e. happier) days for the BNY (yiddin) than Tu Be’av and Yoim Kippur, since on these days the daughters of Israel/Yerusholayim go out dressed in white and dance (also sing) in the vineyards.” And what were the lyrics to those songs? “Young man, consider whom you choose (to be your wife)” (Tanis, Chapter 4). Did you just read that correctly? Girls went dancing in white dresses on Yoim Kippur and also on Tu Be’av in the vineyards looking for eligible men? Have you ever seen meydlich dancing on Yoim Kipppur in your shul? Are we davening in the wrong places? Did Art Scroll redact this part and put in a different version of the Avoida (only the men will chap this)? Say it’s not so please! Ober (but) Indeed you did and welcome to the lost holiday of Tu Be’av.
What’s pshat lost? How does one lose a holiday? Did Moshiach come? And did you know that according to some, taka most of the Jewish holidays will disappear when he appears? Moreover did you know that so profound and meaningful is this holiday that our Sages, and who knew better than them, point out that taka if Moshiach does make an appearance, virtually every major holiday will pale but Tu Be’av will come to the forefront. You hear this Raboyseyee? You can see the value mamish of girls dancing, even in Moshiach’s times. The Chachomim (sages) chapped and understood that boys and girls have to meet in a natural setting and what could be more natural than girls dancing in a vineyard?
Nu, we’ll get to that shortly or maybe not, but first let’s reminisce about Tu Be’av. Am I suggesting that there was a time mamish when a boy could meet a girl on his own, talk to her, make a date, even see her dancing and perhaps fall in love without being ostracized, shunned, and thrown out of yeshiva and worse? And she would still be eligible to wear white, if you chap? Yes, I am. Seemingly there was such a time and a good amount of space is dedicated to this holiday and approach to marriage in the heylige Gemora. And in that spirit, let’s learn some Gemora.
The heylige Gemora actually discusses Tu Be’av in Taanis- Daf Lamud aleph Omud Aleph (31a) for you oisvorf non believers; how it came about and what happened on that date. To make a long story short, the Gemora describes quite vividly how this was a day when all the single girls got dressed up in white dresses and went dancing before the boys in order to attract a suitable mate. I happen to like black dresses better because les-man-dipolig (no one would argue), black dresses make the girls mechilas (rear ends) look skinnier; nu- thin is avada in. Of course it took several years to decide that white was the right color as a machloikes (argument) broke out between Raav and Schmeill about what white meant. Raav suggested that white meant white mamesh- like the moon and the bedika cloth (pre) but Schmeill who always had a hand and more for the girls, suggested that even off white was good but only bi-di-eved (as a compromise).
Says the heylige Gemora: The single young ladies all wore special gowns of white. The purpose was to woo a potential groom, and the white indicated that they were free from sin. Indeed, the Braisa in Taanis (31a) states that the custom was for everyone to borrow white clothing from others so that the poorer girls, who, in truth, lacked the financial means to clothe themselves properly, would not be embarrassed that they did not have something to wear. Isn’t it gevaldig how sensitive the Rabbis were back then? Indeed, even the king’s daughter and the Kohain Gadol’s daughter exchanged clothing.
And as you can only imagine, if girls are dancing in the vineyards, boys couldn’t be too far behind. Is there a better combo than girls dancing and wine? Adds the heylige Gemora: “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride. Gevalidig! Is this the forerunner of the hotel lobby and social mixers or what? Next, the Gemora describes the lines used by the girls to ensnare…. err I mean catch a guy. Nu- there were three categories of dancing girls: the beauties, the uglies and likely the very uglies but these mistama came from very good families. Ok- the Gemora doesn’t specifically state ‘the very uglies’ but we can imagine that if they had only yichus, and that’s all they used to lure the suitors, that looks were nowhere to be found. Veyeter: and here’s what each would call out to try to chap (entice) a man:
The beauties: “Look for beauty, for a woman is for beauty.” Sounds logical to most men. The regular uglies: “Make your acquisition for the sake of Heaven, as long as you decorate us with jewels.” And those with yichus only (very ugly): “Look for family, for a woman is for children.” What can be learned from their strategy Raboyseyee? That jewelry can taka cover up some of the ugliness, though seemingly not all, and mistama clothing helps also.
Now, wasn’t it just last week when we learned that one should not add or take away from the holy mitzvois given down by the RBSO? Yes it was! And weren’t we also taught that Moishe came down from the mountain, not once but twice, schlepping those heavy rocks and that he also came down with the Toirah she-baal-peh (the oral tradition)? I believe that we were. And weren’t we also taught by the Rambam who includes this as one of his 13 principles- that we believe in the heylige toirah that Moishe schlepped down both oral and written? Yes we do! Nu- shteltz zich di shaylo (the question then arises): what happened to this piece of Mishna and Gemora and this holiday? And who gave the Rabbis the right to remove punkt (specifically) this holiday? Who gave our Rabbis the right to play with the oral tradition? Oral is good, if you chap and if you do, very good!
How lucky are you/we that you/we are married and likely found our/your wife years before today’s very not so choshova Rabonim decided to take the heylige toirah that Moishe Rabaynuu brought down and tamper with it? If the heylige toirah was brought down by Moishe Rabaynuu and if we are to believe that the Gemora is just as sacred as is the toirah she-bich-sav (written), and if we are to follow the Gemora because the Gemora illuminates and elucidates the toirah shebichsav- who are they to go ahead and cut out and eradicate holidays that are specifically mentioned in the heylige Gemora? Are you chapping my gist here? Maybe we should also cut out other oral traditions: how about we start with concepts of milichig and fleishig. Maybe chicken should move to the pareve list? After all, the entire heylige toirah only has but five words mentioned on kashrus and yet the Vaad has built a multibillion dollar enterprise on these five words and now offer hashgocha on tablecloths.
Anyway…that for another shabbis. I’m all worked up now.
Grada (it so happens) that I wouldn’t have an issue if they changed the color of the dress from white to black or even another color. After all, it’s a dovor yoduah (well known and accepted) that white dresses can be less than tzinusdick (modest) as they tend to reveal a shtikel too much, lines and more. Ober (however) bazman hazeh (in our times), modern society has developed a fix for this issue and today even white is OK. Moreover, if it was good back then and girls found their matches without having to go through the shidduch process and if the Gemora lives on, why is this minhag and holiday dead? Mamish gevaldige kashis (excellent questions)!
Wait…I’m not done yet!!! And if they can abolish a piece of the Gemora, why can’t I? And where is it written that these conspiring choshova Rebbes of the chumrah clubs can select which piece of the heylige Gemora is real vs. fiction, which to follow and which to abolish? It shakes me to the core of my very deep belief system. I’m mamish beginning to doubt the sale of my chomitz to the poor goy who thinks he made a score, yikes!
The Oisvorfer has concluded that those who took it upon themselves to mamish do away with this Yom Tov and this form of dating where boys and girls are free to meet without the intervention of Shadchonim (matchmakers) and other archaic forms of set-ups where girls need to prepare resumes, have created the forerunner of today’s Shidduch crisis, exacerbated avada by yet newer Rabbis who have developed even more chumras. What’s next for the girls, a burka? Says the Oisvorfer: it’s mamish shtus (a bunch of BS). A panic has been caused by these folks, an epidemic mamish and the only way to cure it, should this continue, will be to have yeshiva bochurim marry a few meydlich at a time, also, by the way, mutir (halachically sanctioned) for many generations, maybe even today. Hey, isn’t Rabaynu Gershon long dead and his Cherem long expired? They have caused mamish thousands of single formerly frum girls, to remain single who loi olanu are now forced to date not frum (observant), and at times not even Jewish men so that they can enjoy some companionship and the feeling of a man as he is attempting to be mekayem the first mitzvah of P’ru Ur’vu.
A gitten shabbos to you!
Nu, I feel much better.
The Oisvorfer Ruv